Mt. Ninham
Image by Ed Illiano

Our forests provide a filtration system that buffers surface waters from contamination.

Image by susannah

Buffer plantings can provide a more stable shoreline and reduce runoff once established.

child sitting on bank by water with fishing pole
Image by jamjoh

Our surface water provide recreational opportunities and improve our quality of life.


Flood waters can carry contaminants and pollutants into stream and lakes.

Lakes and Streams

Water Quality & Our Surface Waters

There are more than 60 private or public lakes in Putnam County, and countless stream and tributaries. These beautiful water bodies add to our sense of place, and contribute to our enjoyment of our natural landscape. Some are protected by forested buffers, while other are adjacent to roads, lawns, and parks, subjecting them to possible contaminants.

Physical, Chemical and Biological processes affect water quality. With a proper balance of all three, water quality can be a healthy and suitable habitat for fish, as well as a safe environment for recreational activities, such as fishing or swimming. Human disturbances are the greatest pollutant sources, such as construction, improper landscaping practices, and accidental spills. Unknown, unmeasured amounts of pollutants, or non-point source pollution, is a major issue affecting our water bodies.

Runoff can carry soil-borne pathogens, soil particles, nutrients, fertilizers, and pesticides, into surface waters, contaminating them and causing harmful algal blooms (HABS) and collateral damage to wildlife. When the natural acting plant filter, also known as riparian buffer, is removed, often for easy access or clear view, of the water, we lose a vital water-quality protection.

Poor water quality can be harmful to the ecosystem, as well as to human health. Swallowing, having contact with contaminated water, and eating fish from those areas can result in illness. Water quality test can be done with professionals or through a DIY water testing kit. 


Jennifer Lerner
Senior Resource Educator
845-278-6738 ext. 216

Last updated March 10, 2023